Sunday, October 29, 2006

Things not to say

The Dean has a lunch weekly where he brings in an accomplished alum and invites students to come and mingle. At a recent one, here is an overheard conversation between the alum and a 22 year old, straight out of college 1L.

Alum: So, what kind of law are you interested in?
1L: I'm really interested in mergers and acquisitions.
Alum: Really, that's interesting. I used do that kind of work earlier in my career.
1L: Wow, that's exactly what I would like to do.
Alum: What exactly do you find interesting about doing mergers? Do you have any business experience?
1L: No, but I just find the topic in general very interesting.
Alum: Have you talked to any M&A lawyers about their work?
1L: What's M&A?

I was standing in the circle and I laughed so hard inside I thought I was just going to loose it. But, being the calm and composed Fox, I managed to hold it, and betrayed at most a smirk.

Why this incident was very telling: Here you have a straight right out of college undergrad (most likely a poli sci or a history major) with no prior business experience being interested in a specialized area of corporate law. Yet he/she has no idea about what it entails or anything about the subject, and is only interested in it because he/she undoubtedly read about mergers in some survey that lists the average salary of lawyers specializing in M&A. He/she could not say anything about the topic except that he finds the "topic in general very interesting." And he/she just looked like an ass in front of a big-name alum and the Dean himself.

I challenge anyone to find a fresh liberal arts right out of undergrad 1L who has a true interest in corporate Sarbanes-Oxley compliance work. 30 year old former investment banker I can understand, but not Joe Fratboy from suburbia.

I think this is the big problem with BigLaw. Stories abound about associates who hate the work and are there only for the money. My guess is that these associates are cut from the same cloth as the aforementioned 1L. Note: I'm not anti-BigLaw per se as I am anti-BigLaw for people whose only interest in it derives from financial considerations. Once in a while you will hear stories of people who love it at BigLaw, and my guess is that they have a real interest in their area of practice and had some substantive work experience in it before law school.

Food for thought.


Blogger Lily Graypure said...

Not necessarily. I'm stupid idiot collosally retarded when it comes to acronyms. The only ways I ever remember them is after having been embarassed for not knowing them (HLS with an ex, and. . . OTR with another ex. . . hmmmmm).

2:04 PM  
Blogger The Fox said...

Point taken. Except this 1L was trying to portray himself as being interested in something he obviously had no clue about, since the common trade term is M&A. It's like a pre-law telling me that he's applying to law school but is confused when I ask him if he's taken the LSAT yet. He only knows the LSAT by Law School Admission Test.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Lily Graypure said...

Well, I don't know. Do you say Ellsat or ell ess ae tee? Either way, it may not immediately regsister if he knows it the other way.

But yeah, it DOES sound like he was being a giant boob.

6:38 AM  
Blogger KT said...

Well, I made the decision to become a lawyer, took the LSAT, applied to law schools, and started law school, and didn't know what a "tort" was until I went to my first day of class. Everyone's got to start somewhere.

I don't think your 1L is dumb unless they actually go through school and end up working in corporate law without bothering to explore it further first.

I went to law school wanting to do something completely different from what I had done, so part of the process was learning about things I had an interest in, which sometimes meant asking dumb questions in order to learn. And where I ended up was very different from where I started.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

or perhaps this new 1L watches too many movies and was trying to make the "murders and executions" joke from american psycho and it was completely missed by all involved. the second i saw the words "mergers and acquisitions" that's where i thought the story was going.

2:05 PM  

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